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What is "fear" in relation to the Illinois Stalking law?

Rockford, IL |

I've read about the reasonable person standard, and the Illinois Stalking law discusses that a person commits stalking if a course of conduct directed at a person causes a reasonable person to "fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person."

What I want to know if how the courts determine if a person truly holds or held "fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person." How does the court determine that?

As I understand that it's a misdemeanor, the judge can make a judgment on it without a jury, right?
What if, however, the alleged victim is lying about his or her "fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person"?

Also, what is meant by "suffer other emotional distress"?

Assume no illegal threats were made.

Also, the defendant states that no threats of harm or confinement were made. By the evidence examined, there are no implicit or explicit threats of harm or confinement. The defendant believes that he is falsely being accused of stalking and instead there should be prosecution for harassment if anything. The defendant was annoyed about the alleged victim's treatment toward him and wanted an answer as to why she was being a jerk to him, and the defendant cursed out the alleged victim. As such, the defendant wanted to talk with the alleged victim in person (no threats of harm or confinement were made). If someone came up from behind me and said, "BOO!" and I was frightened, is that stalking?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

This is a convoluted question that can at best result in a convoluted answer. For clarification, was the person charged criminally or is someone seeking protection under the Civil No Contact/Stalking statute? Where in the court proceedings are you?

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3 comments

Asker

Posted

The "victim" sought a Illinois Stalking No Contact Order. There was never a charge for stalking. However, as the defendant believes, the Stalking No Contact Order is based on allegations of criminal stalking rather than harassment. Where is the line drawn throughout such proceedings from where harassment then goes into the realm of stalking? And, even though a civil procedure underwent, how can the defendant determine if criminal stalking actually occurred? The defendant does not believe criminal stalking occurred, but since the plaintiff claims to have "fear" of the defendant, the defendant considers that the plaintiff is making an accusation of criminal stalking.

Asker

Posted

The defendant did not hold the intent to cause significant emotional distress in the plaintiff. The defendant did, however, hold a strong desire to talk some trash to the plaintiff for the way the plaintiff treated the defendant. However, the defendant made no threats of harm or confinement. The defendant stated he wanted to hold a discussion with the plaintiff, whether that be at the plaintiff's home or where-ever.

Asker

Posted

Feel free to ask more questions for clarification.

Posted

That is like asking what "reasonable doubt" means. The law, in Illinois at least, does not attempt to define it. The meaning is left to the common sense and understanding of the jury or, in a bench trial, of the trial judge. In my experience, juries and judges in a criminal case take their responsibilities very seriously and are cautious about accepting the testimony of witnesses.
Does that mean they always get it right? Of course not. Bur they do the best they can. There is no other answer to your question.

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3 comments

Asker

Posted

I'm not sure I can agree with you on this. I think if there were to be defined ways of looking at this, then an individual would have to look at case law. Based on previous cases and previous decisions by judges and or juries, one could attempt to determine a consensus on what is considered fear by a "reasonable person." Even if left to common sense, one could argue that a reasonable person with reasonable fear would reasonably call the police. I believe I read somewhere that Chicago, IL police will not act toward a criminal charge unless there has been at least two police reports.

Asker

Posted

So, what I mean is that if the alleged victim did not call the police, then there was not a fear of the defendant. It's possible that an alleged victim is eccentric in desiring civil prosecution rather than criminal prosecution. Again, the reason I've developed this legal question is because the whole "reasonable person" standard does not make much sense to me. It could be that I grew up with a violent felon in the household, though.

Asker

Posted

It's unfortunate I have to ask about a law when ignorance is no excuse for the law.

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